[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 7

61. HUSH
hush
Released: October 4, 2017
Charts: n/a
c/w: n/a
Album: DNA
Considering the quality of the last few singles, I can say that HUSH is quite disappointing. It has a harder hitting R&B/pop song, but it just doesn’t hit the spot and comes off more like an album filler from Kumi. It has a pretty wicked beat, but the arrangement doesn’t really stand out in any other way, while the melody is a bit tedious to get through. It’s also a bit cheesy with its awkward English lines. It’s just an overall mess for me and I feel like Kumi should be releasing some more focused pop tunes at this point such as “Shhh!”.
Rating: 4/10

62. NEVER ENOUGH
neverenough
Released: December 6, 2017
Charts: n/a
c/w: n/a
Album: AND
I wasn’t expecting NEVER ENOUGH to be a ballad. This is a little different from the ballads that we usually get from Kumi as it the arrangement is a little more bare and focuses more on the melody and Kumi’s voice. I do like it and I can say it is a step up from the last song. The melody is quite charming and there are some really memorable parts. I love how the ending explodes with some more powerful vocals as well. With that said, I do wish the arrangement was more fleshed out as it would’ve been better to get some more orchestral pieces in for the bridge.
Rating: 7/10

 

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 6

51. Ai wo Tomenaide (愛を止めないで)
aiwotomenaide
Released: September 21, 2011
Charts: #6 / 43,000 copies sold
c/w: You are not alone
Album: JAPONESQUE
Exactly a year after her last autumn ballad single, we get Ai wo Tomenaide. This is like a mix of both “Suki de, Suki de, Suki de” and “Ai Dake ga” with its fusion of orchestral and light R&B elements. Can’t say I’m terribly impressed unfortunately. While the song is quite beautiful, it just doesn’t have that strong of a melody that just can’t carry the song over its more stunning arrangement. It’s a bit unfortunate that it is such a beautiful, yet generic tune from Kumi. There are some nice moments in there though. I’m a bit surprised by the B-side (You are not alone). This is a super poppy song that has a cuter, summery vibe to it. I do like that there is a contrast in sounds, but I don’t think this style is that suitable and it sort of comes off a bit awkward after the A-side. It’s also pretty generic.
Rating: 6/10

52. Love Me Back
lovemeback
Released: November 30, 2011
Charts: #6 / 43,000 copies sold
c/w: Say Her Name
Album: JAPONESQUE
People labeled Love Me Back as the follow-up to Kumi’s stomping “Cherry Girl”. It has a similar vibe with its loaded attitude and light rock elements, but it just doesn’t hit the same spot for me. I do like its more sensual approach and Kumi sounds great, but the chorus doesn’t hit hard enough for me to want to really get into it. I wish the melody was stronger and Kumi belted it out a bit more. It’s still a pretty infectious song though and is reminiscent of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” or Jolin’s “Agent J”. I like the more dramatic sound of the B-side (Say Her Name). It has a more acoustic pop/R&B edge and I feel like it’s something that Kumi hasn’t really tackled much before. It’s a pretty cool song.
Rating: 7/10

53. Go to the top
gotothetop
Released: October 24, 2012
Charts: #1 / 69,000 copies sold
c/w: darling
Album: Bon Voyage
Go to the top is Kumi’s first single since her hiatus from 2011-2012 and it’s an explosive comeback. To be honest, this song is totally carried by the arrangement. It has an edgier pop/rock punch that works with its electronic elements. It has the ability to really build things up into an explosive chorus. The chorus isn’t particularly catchy, but the melody does work nicely with the attitude of the music so everything still works out pretty well. I do love how Kumi sounds, too. I really love how the B-side (darling) is much softer. This is an acoustic midtempo tune that really helps show a gentler side to Kumi’s voice. Even if it is on the more laid back side, it has a bit of energy in the melody to keep it catchy.
Rating: 8/10

54. Koishikute (恋しくて)
koishikute
Released: December 5, 2012
Charts: #7 / 23,000 copies sold
c/w: Alone
Album: Bon Voyage
At this point, I’m a little worried about listening to Kumi’s ballads just because they have become a bit stale. Koishikute is a bit generic for Kumi in that it has a more emotional quality to it, but it’s still a pretty nice ballad. I like that it slowly gains power, but still has a strong enough melody to carry it through the quieter portions. The chorus is especially beautiful and Kumi does sound quite nice singing slower songs. A solid ballad. The B-side (Alone) is actually a cover of a Okamoto Mayo song. It’s yet another slower ballad, but it just isn’t as interesting. There are some really pretty points to its arrangement, but it doesn’t quite go anywhere for me.
Rating: 7/10

55. Summer Trip
summertrip
Released: July 31, 2013
Charts: #6 / 22,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Bon Voyage
It’s been a bit, but we finally get another multi A-side single. Summer Trip opens with the powerful pop/rock LALALALALA. It has a heavier arrangement to it that hasn’t been heard in a while and feels more in line with something popular in the mid-00s than something in the 2010s. Still, it’s a pretty catchy tune and I like it’s poppier chorus despite its harder verses. Don’t really see it fitting summer though. The next A-side to come up is the EDM-focused IS THIS TRAP?. It has a weird name, but the song is unfortunately a bit generic and at this point, rather outdated sounding. I just find the arrangement to be a bit dull and it doesn’t quite surge with enough power to carry the awkward lyrics and melody. I might have been more interested in this if it was 2013, but at this point, it’s a not my cup of tea. I’m more on the fence with TOUCH DOWN. It has a harder hip-hop/electronic sound that helps it stand out from the other two songs and it has some really cool elements to it like the edited vocals and the funky melody. Unfortunately, I just want it to hit even harder and it never gets to that point. It always feels on the verge of hitting its stride but sort of falls flat.
Rating: 7/10 (LALALALALA), 4/10 (IS THIS TRAP?), 6/10 (TOUCHDOWN)

56. Dreaming Now!
dreamingnow
Released: November 13, 2013
Charts: #9 / 25,000 copies sold
c/w: XXX
Album: Bon Voyage
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dreaming Now!, but I’m a bit sad to say its an incredibly generic EDM song that doesn’t have too many redeeming factors. I’m sure in 2013 this would have been a great jam and there are some cool qualities to it, but the chorus just sounds so lazy with its repetitive chorus that sounds like most other EDM songs from this time. The verses are actually more creative and where the stomping, almost African beats come in to give it its life. I actually enjoy the B-side (XXX) more than the A-side. It has a dance/pop edge to it that is heightened by its stomping beat. While it brings something more EDM-inspired for the chorus, I much prefer the drop than that repetitive chorus despite it being just as lazy.
Rating: 4/10

57. HOTEL
hotel
Released: August 6, 2014
Charts: #7 / 21,000 copies sold
c/w: MONEY IN MY BAG / TURN AROUND
Album: WALK OF MY LIFE
Not really sure what to think of HOTEL. I like that it isn’t just another EDM tune like her last single and it reminds me more of American Pop and the music and melody really remind me of Britney Spears’ “Perfume”, which isn’t a bad song to take influence from. It’s a bit brighter in the arrangement, but the song falls flat in its vocal performance. Kumi doesn’t do that well doing these “rap-sing” kind of verses, so things sort of fall flat there. The chorus is a bit better, but it just doesn’t sound as smooth. The first B-side (MONEY IN MY BAG) just isn’t my cup of tea with its heavier, in-your-face hip-hop sound. It’s a bit too all over the place in its delivery and I just don’t find any part particularly fun to listen to. Luckily the second B-side (TURN AROUND) shows up and helps things out. We get a touching R&B ballad that it reminiscent of some of her older stuff and it’s easily her best song from a single in a while. It is quite beautiful and should have been the A-side.
Rating: 6/10

58. Dance In The Rain
danceintherain
Released: November 12, 2014
Charts: n/a
c/w: n/a
Album: WALK OF MY LIFE
Dance In The Rain is the first of Kumi’s recent single releases that haven’t been official singles (or ones that counted to Oricon anyways). I wasn’t expecting a song that would be more upbeat than this, but instead we get a more emotionally charged midtempo pop song. While I do adore that the verses are quite beautiful and calming and that the chorus has a lot of power to it, I just wish Kumi’s voice was a little more controlled in the chorus as she sounds screechy. It’s still a more impressive song than “HOTEL” at least.
Rating: 7/10

59. Shhh!
shhh
Released: April 9, 2016
Charts: n/a
c/w: Kimi Omoi (君想い)
Album: W FACE ~outside~
I think Shhh! is the first single in a while that I can say I’m impressed with. It has a harder, almost country rock edge to it that stands out and it’s one of her most focused and interesting singles in a while. She really owns this style with her voice. The arrangement itself is fun and cool with its nice stomping beat, funky synths and snaps. The chorus isn’t as fleshed out as I want it to be, but I love its edge and it still brings something effortlessly cool that Kumi hasn’t been able to deliver in a while. The B-side (Kimi Omoi) is a gentle ballad, which I expected from the title. It’s pretty, but also pretty generic. It is nice hearing Kumi still handle a ballad like this wonderfully though.
Rating: 9/10

60. LIT
lit
Released: August 2, 2017
Charts: n/a
c/w: n/a
Album: AND
LIT feels like a fun follow-up to Shhh! and has a similar vibe to that one, although this one is a bit more hard hitting. I can’t say it has the same catchiness as the last song because it comes in with these high-pitched background vocals that just don’t work nicely with Kumi’s darker and raspier voice. It’s still a pretty fun song though and I love the energy that Kumi brings. It works wonderfull with that summery pop/rock vibe.
Rating: 7/10

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 5

41. TABOO
taboo
Released: October 8, 2008
Charts: #1 / 84,000 copies sold
c/w: Always
Album: TRICK
Although “hands” is my favourite Kumi song (a lot of that due to nostalgia), I still regard TABOO as her magnum opus. This thumping upbeat electronic pop tune is absolutely amazing and it’s one of her most infectious songs. The verses are pretty cool and there are some really clever hooks here to keep the song interesting before we get into the stellar chorus. It’s nothing particularly explosive, but its slithering melody is just so intoxicating. Even through the autotune, Kumi sounds amazing. The B-side (Always) is a light R&B pop tune, which is an interesting contrast to the more intense A-side. It’s a cute song. It’s definitely more filler than quality, but it’s still a solid tune and I like its gentle flow.
Rating: 10/10

42. stay with me
staywithme
Released: December 24, 2008
Charts: #1 / 65,000 copies sold
c/w: Winter Bell
Album: TRICK
A winter ballad is expected at this time and stay with me delivers on that front. It’s a little different from her more intense ballads and has a more uplifting quality to it. I actually really enjoy the sweeping strings and the gradual build up into the chorus. The chorus is a little flat at times for me, but there are some pretty points in the melody. The orchestral arrangement is also quite stunning. For me, it feels more like an ending theme to a movie or something from Disney. The B-side (Winter Bell) is a cute upbeat pop tune. It definitely has some sweeter vocals to it, which work with the bouncy, holiday-like arrangement.
Rating: 7/10

43. It’s all Love!
itsalllove
Released: March 31, 2009
Charts: #1 / 99,000 copies sold
c/w: faraway / Tenbin ~Tsuyogari na Watashi x  Yowagari na Kimi~ (天秤 ~強がりな私×弱がりな君~)
Album: UNIVERSE
It’s all Love! is a collaboration between Kumi and her sister, misono. It’s a pop/rock tune, which is more in tune with misono’s sound, although Kumi has played around with similar sounds. It’s a pretty fun song, although I’m not a huge fan of the random adlibs that pop up throughout the song and make the delivery sloppy. My favourite part is the chorus where the ladies play off of each other in an intensely paced fashion. The whole song can be a bit messy at times, but it’s still fun. The first B-side (faraway) is a solo track for Kumi and it’s a pretty ballad. Although she has released a number of ballads, this is actually a pretty solid one and one of her most beautiful with its sparkly backing and softer vocals. misono’s B-side (Tenbin ~Tsuyogari na Watashi x  Yowagari na Kimi~) comes with a long title and a more acoustic sound. It wouldn’t be that bad of a song if misono’s vocals weren’t so horribly exeggerated. If she sang like she did when she was in day after tomorrow, she could have made this work.
Rating: 7/10

44. 3 SPLASH
3splash
Released: July 8, 2009
Charts: #2 / 91,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: UNIVERSE
3 SPLASH is a multiple A-side that features three summery tracks. The first is Lick me♥. Despite having a rather dirty sounding title, the song has a fun pop/rock arrangement that fits the bright and exciting season to a tee. I wasn’t expecting to like this song as much as I do. Kumi’s voice fits nicely with the energetic chorus and this is easily one of her better pop/rock offerings. However, the strongest song on the single is ECSTASY for me. This returns us to the electronic pop sound, but with some rock elements and a more aggressive beat. I wasn’t really interested in this song at first, but it has become one of my favourites from Kumi because it has a more unpredictable structure. The verses are rockier, but that swirling chorus is where the song really gets its edge. There are some cool hooks here. This is just an amazing track! Continuing the pop/rock influence, we get Hashire!, which is probably the single’s most rock heavy tune. It’s a pretty cool tune. I’m not a big fan of the verses as they just come off as rather forgettable for me. However, that chorus is pretty catchy and has a powerful arrangement that really gets me into the song. The melody is pretty fun as well and Kumi sounds great!
Rating: 8/10 (Lick me), 10/10 (ECSTASY), 7/10 (Hashire!)

45. Alive / Physical thing
alive
Released: September 16, 2009
Charts: #1 / 44,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: UNIVERSE
This double A-side single opens with Alive, a kind of ballad that Kumi hasn’t really attempted at before. It has a very slow build-up and brings a more calming effect. It’s arrangement is also quite pretty with its focus on the flute and strings. It feels more like a theme song to a movie. It’s quite beautiful, but also quite boring. It’s a nice song, but I can’t sit through the whole thing. The second A-side is a cover of a Nosheen song. Physical thing is a powerful dance/pop tune that feels more in line with the sound of “ECSTASY”. It’s pretty fun and edgy, but feels more like a weaker version with its lacking hooks and more monotonous delivery. It’s decent, but Kumi has definitely done a better job before.
Rating: 5/10 (Alive), 6/10 (Physical thing)

46. Can We Go Back
canwegoback
Released:January 20, 2010
Charts: #2 / 36,000 copies sold
c/w: Good☆day
Album: UNIVERSE
Can We Go Back is a cover of a Kelly Clarkson song and has a heavier rock tone. Unfortunately, this is one of those times where it just doesn’t connect with me. It has a powerful arrangement that helps to heighten that aggressive chorus, but it feels like something is missing. While I think Kumi does sound great here, I feel like she sounds better suited for dance or pop better. I actually much prefer the B-side (Good☆day), which is a sparkling synthed up pop song. It’s arrangement is more towards the cuter side of things, but I like it’s fast-paced melody. It’s much catchier and the instrumental break is fun and bright.
Rating: 5/10

47. Gossip Candy
gossipcandy
Released: July 7, 2010
Charts: #4 / 84,000 copies sold
c/w: For you
Album: Dejavu
Gossip Candy is another multiple A-side single. The first song is Lollipop, which feels like Kumi’s first upbeat urban single in a while. I actually love this song because it has some fun lyrics and a catchy melody that make it exciting to sing along to. The sexy verses are great as well and the pre-chorus features a short, funky rap section. However, that chorus is where all the magic happens. The lyrics (‘I dodge a bullet bullet’) work so nicely with the melodic hooks to bring a goofy, yet seductive mix. The next two songs have the same melodies, but different arrangements. Inside Fishbowl opens things up with a pop/rock tune. It has a slamming backing that mixes oddly with its almost psychedelic vocal performance. It’s a catchy tune, although I’m not entirely sure if I’m a fan of it. I just wish it made things even crazier. The second of the songs is Outside Fishbowl, which continues the pop/rock sound but changes some things up. The arrangement is a little harder hitting and the vocals aren’t edited in such a weird way. I think I prefer this version a little more, although I can’t say I’m still much of a fan. It is catchy though. The B-side (For you) is a ballad, which I can say I expected. At this point, her ballads have started becoming a little bland and I feel like this is one of her worst. Kumi’s attempt at trying to make her vocals “cuter” just doesn’t work here.
Rating: 10/10 (Lollipop), 5/10 (Inside Fishbowl), 6/10 (Outside Fishbowl)

48. Suki de, Suki de, Suki de / Anata Dake ga (好きで、好きで、好きで。 / あなただけが)
sukidesukidesukide
Released: September 22, 2010
Charts: #2 / 84,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Dejavu
It’s expected that Kumi would come back next with a ballad single. Suki de, Suki de, Suki de is a bit more on her classical ballad side of things, but it’s still a pretty tune. I do like how the chorus is sung as it does bring a little variety to the sound. At first, it comes off rather run-of-the-mill and doesn’t have much that stands out, however, I really love how the chorus opens up with its grandiose arrangement. It really propels the song forward and gives it a great punch that the boring verses lack. Anata Dake ga is easily the superior ballad and one of her strongest ballads ever. We get something a little more R&B that has a gentler delivery, but it’s softer sound is actually really charming. It’s quite reminiscent of the songs released around this time, but it is still able to stand out with its stunning melody. This is probably the last Kumi song I really connected with though.
Rating: 6/10 (Suki de, Suki de, Suki de), 9/10 (Anata Dake ga)

49. POP DIVA
popdiva
Released: February 2, 2011
Charts: #4 / 39,000 copies sold
c/w: Black Candy
Album: Dejavu
While on paper, POP DIVA sounds like it will be a great electronic dance/pop tune in line with “TABOO” and “ECSTASY”, it’s just too messy. The verses are pretty fun and I even like the edgy pre-chorus. Unfortunately, the chant-like chorus is just disappointing and I don’t find it that appealing. It feels more suited to be used for a pop/rock song and the arrangement feels more suited for something a little more melodic. The whole song is a bit too messy for my tastes. I’m not sure if I enjoy the B-side (Black Candy) that much either. While it has a stronger rock vibe, it just isn’t that interesting to me either. It’s a bit noisy and not particularly catchy.
Rating: 4/10

50. 4 TIMES
4times
Released: August 17, 2011
Charts: #6 / 74,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: JAPONESQUE
Bringing yet another multiple A-side single, we get her 50th one, 4 TIMES. Opening things up first is Poppin’ love cocktail, which is a fast-paced pop/rock tune. I’m not a big fan of this song because it doesn’t have a really catchy melody. It has a lot of attitude to it and reminds me of “Hashire!” from a while back, but lacks that extra edge to really make it stand out. It’s just not for me. Luckily, IN THE AIR is up next and easily the single’s highlight song. It has a lighter pop sound with some R&B influences in the arrangement. It’s quite a pretty song, but it still has a lot of power to it, especially in the chorus with its introduction of the guitar. I also like that Kumi’s vocal delivery is also on the softer side of things for the majority of the song, which fits in nicely with the prettier elements in the song. The song has a very end-of-summer sound to it. V.I.P. is supposed to be the more “urban” track of the single, but I just don’t like it that much. It tries to do too much, but doesn’t really execute any of its sections with much focus. The vocal performance is also really odd and there are some weird points where Kumi tries to sound too sexy or fun and it just comes off a little awkward. The arrangement is also a little all over the place. Luckily, KO-SO-KO-SO is much better. It has an 80’s synthpop vibe to it, but it still brings the sex appeal with Kumi’s voice. She sounds much more relaxed here and it’s way nicer than the over-the-top delivery of the last song. While I love the verses, I do wish the chorus pushed a little harder. It has a catchy melody, but the arrangement just comes off a little flat for me. Still, a funky tune.
Rating: 4/10 (Poppin’ love cocktail), 8/10 (IN THE AIR), 4/10 (V.I.P.), 7/10 (KO-SO-KO-SO)

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 4

31. Koi no Tsubomi (恋のつぼみ)
koinotsubomi
Released: May 24, 2006
Charts: #2 / 273,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Black Cherry
As her first single after her huge twelve special single run and highly successful second best album, Koi no Tsubomi brings us a cuter tune more in line with “Birthday Eve”. I feel like this one does the cuter thing better though. The arrangement is exciting and fun and I love the focus on the string-like synths to really give it that pop. The chorus sort of zooms by, but it still strong enough hooks to stand out. It’s nice to hear her return to the lighter kind of vibe.
Rating: 8/10

32. 4 hot wave
4hotwave
Released: July 26, 2006
Charts: #2 / 390,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Black Cherry
The thing with 4 hot wave is that it is a four A-side single and still her best selling single to date. The first A-side is the erotic JUICY. This is definitely something that Kumi has done before as seen by past tunes like “Candy” and “Shake It”. However, I feel like this one is more like the latter than the former, which is that it has some really great stand out moments. The verses are decent, but that harmonized pre-chorus really brings up the energy and really helps to set things up for the drop into the chorus. It’s a really catchy and one of her more exciting upbeat urban tunes. With your smile is the second A-side and has a more explosive dance/pop sound. After the first A-side, this is my favourite because it has some great disco vibes to it and reminds me of some of her other material like “Chase” and “Cutie Honey”. The beat just thumps by, but it’s that explosive chorus and brass-like backing that really drives the song. It’s a solid tune, although it does get a bit forgotten at times. I’ll be there more closely resembles “WIND” although it changes the synthes for something a little more pop/rock. It’s certainly not a terrible song, but probably the one I forget about most from this single. It has a more calming energy to it. While the arrangement is pretty and the melody isn’t bad either, it just doesn’t stand out. Ningyo-hime is one of Kumi’s attempts at hitting some heavier rock songs, but I can never get into these ones by her. It has a cool arrangement and I do like how things build up. Kumi actually sounds great in the verses as well. However, things sort of fall apart in the chorus. The music has some punch, but the melody just doesn’t feel like it connects with it. There is a this weird distance between the two and it lessens the impact. It’s a bit of a mess, but could’ve been good.
Rating: 9/10 (JUICY), 7/10 (With your smile), 6/10 (I’ll be there), 4/10 (Ningyo-hime)

33. Yume no Uta / Futari de… (夢のうた / ふたりで…)
yumenouta
Released: October 18, 2006
Charts: #1 / 301,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Black Cherry
Finally returning with a ballad single, we this stunning single with two songs that actually share the same melody, but different arrangements. Yume no Uta is the stronger of the two and one of Kumi’s stand out ballads. It’s quite similar to “you” in that it has a sparkling orchestrally backed arrangement that helps bring a more intense and melancholic vibe. While I do enjoy this song, over the years its impact has lessened and I feel like Kumi has put out better ballads. It’s still a gorgeous song. Futari de… is the sweeter version of the two. It still retains its sparkly magic, but trades the more melodramatic backing for something softer. I never really appreciated this one that much before, but I think it has grown on me a bit more. I like its sweeter approach, although I wish Kumi’s voice wasn’t as “cute” sounding.
Rating: 8/10 (Yume no Uta), 6/10 (Futari de…)

34. Cherry Girl / Unmei (運命)
cherrygirl
Released: December 6, 2006
Charts: #3 / 100,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Black Cherry
I love Cherry Girl. It brings back something with a bit more punch to it with its pop/rock arrangement, but doesn’t try to go too crazy with things. It has a sass to its delivery and this is just emphasized by Kumi’s great vocal performance. She hasn’t really had a song like this before, but it works really well for her. The chorus is harmonized in such a cool way that it makes things almost hypnotic. Although Unmei is a ballad, it was always forgotten by me. However, recently I’ve beem listening to it more and I’ve started to understand its charms. It is pretty classic ballad-Kumi in that it starts out softer before really gaining steam later on with crazy, emotional vocals. The melody is quite beautiful and I like it’s lighter approach, although she has done better.
Rating: 10/10 (Cherry Girl), 6/10 (Unmei)

35. BUT / Aishou (愛証)
but
Released: March 14, 2007
Charts: #2 / 130,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: Kingdom
I find this single to much like the last one since it features a funky upbeat tune as the first A-side and a more emotional ballad as the secondary one. BUT opens things up and it is a monster of a song. It has a more electronic arrangement that is one of Kumi’s first forays into this sound as a single. It’s thumping beat is infectious and while the melody isn’t as intoxicating, there are some stellar moments like the second part of the chorus. It’s a great song a funky follow-up. It can get a bit empty sounding at times though. The thing is, is that Aishou is a way better ballad than “Unmei” is. It has a more emotional delivery with its pop/rock backing and I think the melody is more memorable. Kumi does screech a bit at times, but I like how it ties into the song. I feel like up to this point, it’s a nice change because her ballads were starting to sound a bit similar.
Rating: 9/10 (BUT), 8/10 (Aishou)

36. FREAKY
freaky
Released: June 27, 2007
Charts: #1 / 200,000 copies sold
c/w: Sora (空), Run For Your Life, girls
Album: Kingdom
Probably one of the few attempts at a heavier pop/rock backing that I like, FREAKY is a great tune that has a lot of punch and energy. I feel like this one really fixes the issues that I had with “Ningyo-hime” such as the fact that the melody actually feels connected to the arrangement. The whole song has a lot of attitude though. The verses are cool and have Kumi giving a bit more sass, while the chorus is an explosive punch where there is a nice trade off between the hook and the cooler vocal pieces. The single also features three other songs that are sort of in between the area of A-side and B-side (but I am just counting them as the latter). The first is Sora. It has a more pure pop sound to it, which is a nice change that fits the summery season. I actually really enjoy this song and I wasn’t expecting to like it much. It has a nice, clean melody that works well with the bright arrangement. The second B-side (Run For Your Life) was also promoted with a PV. It’s a stomping pop tune with some soul influences and I really like it’s energy. The arrangement has a lot of power to it thanks to its thumping beat and funky bass undertone. The last of the B-sides (Girls) is probably my least favourite. It brings an upbeat pop song that has a very invigorating sound. It’s not a terrible song at all, just doesn’t have the same charms as the other two. I do like its positive energy though.
Rating: 9/10

37. Ai no Uta (愛のうた)
ainouta
Released: September 12, 2007
Charts: #2 / 134,000 copies sold
c/w: Come Over
Album: Kingdom
Ai no Uta brings us back to the ballads with this more classic number. I wasn’t particularly impressed when I first heard this song back when it was released. However, over the years it has grown on me a bit. The verses aren’t particularly interesting, but the chorus has a lot of emotion to it. Kumi’s voice is rather raspy, but it fits the intensity of the orchestral arrangement. It’s a nice ballad, although not her best. The B-side (Come Over) is a bit of an odd change in sound with its summery, upbeat flavour. I’m not really feeling the verses, but the pre-chorus is quite nice and I do like the fun vibe of chorus.
Rating: 7/10

38. LAST ANGEL
lastangel
Released: November 7, 2007
Charts: #3 / 91,000 copies sold
c/w: Dear Family
Album: Kingdom
LAST ANGEL is actually a collaboration with Korean boy band Tohoshinki, when they still had five members. I actually really like this song because it has a wicked beat and some really cool and exciting sections. However, I actually prefer the parts that focus more on Kumi, but I do find the guys to fit the sound of the song much better. I do wish it pushed even harder at times though, but it’s a fun song that has a bit of rock energy to it. The B-side (Dear Family) features only Kumi and it is a relaxing midtempo pop/R&B tune. It’s a cute tune, but not that interesting either. It’s so slow and even when things pick up in the chorus, it just doesn’t quite grab my attention.
Rating: 7/10

39. anytime
anytime
Released: Janury 23, 2008
Charts: #4 / 53,000 copies sold
c/w: Bounce
Album: Kingdom
Although anytime has Kumi going the cuter sound, we get something a little more lighthearted. I’ve actually really grown to enjoy this song. It’s not the most exciting she has put out, but there is a tenderness in its delivery that really makes me return to it. The chorus doesn’t have a lot of power but relies on the infectious hook and Kumi’s soft voice to really get the point across. It’s quite a sweet song. The B-side (Bounce) is one of her best side tracks and a cover of a Rosette song. I’m actually really surprised this wasn’t made into an A-side because it’s one of her strongest upbeat songs. While the music is upbeat and rather groovy, the vocals are pretty calm sounding and bring a more sensual vibe. It’s cool!
Rating: 8/10

40. MOON
moon
Released: June 11, 2008
Charts: #2 / 138,000 copies sold
c/w: Ain’t It Cool, Once Again, Lady Go!
Album: TRICK
MOON is a bit of a tricky single. Much like “FREAKY”, I’m not sure if it was meant to be a multiple A-side single or not (going to treat it as not). It was also her first single after her infamous ambiotic fluid scandal. The title track, Moon Crying is a ballad. When I first heard this ballad, I was pretty sure I did not like it that much. Listening to it again though, it has a beautiful melody, although I’m not a fan of the pitch jump. It has a similar vibe to “Ai no Uta”, although I would say that this one is the better of the two. Not my favourite from her, but a solid ballad. The first B-side (Ain’t It Cool) is a collaboration with American singer, Fergie. It’s an interesting upbeat song with some strange lyrics. My problem is that it feels like it will build to something with a great and exciting chorus, but it sort of just teases this middle-of-the-road kind of delivery. It’s eh. Can’t say I like the second B-side (Once Again) much either. It has a relaxing reggae sound, but just isn’t that catchy. It’s just doesn’t stand out or try to bring anything that interesting. The last B-side (Lady Go!) is an upbeat electronic pop tune and easily the strongest song on the single. It is quite cute, but has a lot of bright energy to it that just makes it pop. It’s also pretty catchy!
Rating: 7/10

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 3

21. D.D.D
ddd
Released: December 21, 2005
Charts: #5 / 48,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
I can say that I really adore D.D.D. The song features the duo, SOULHEAD, and they help to bring some fun vocal playfulness with Kumi. It has an upbeat R&B feel to it but still brings a lighter approach to things. While the chorus is very catchy, I actually love the build up to it. The verses are fun and the pre-chorus has some great melodic points. The arrangement is a blast though. While the melody definitely has some more R&B elements to it, there is a cool blend of rock in the arrangement to help offset it and give a more explosive punch. It’s a great song.
Rating: 9/10

22. Shake It Up
shakeitup
Released: December 28, 2005
Charts: #6 / 47,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
I love that we get another upbeat tune with Shake It Up. This one matches the cover concept quite while as it has a latin spin on the music. I sometimes forget about this song, but it is a gem. The thumping beat really drives the song, but that infectious hook is really what helps get it stuck in my head. The verses are nice, but a tad forgettable, however the chorus is intoxicating. It’s hard to not get into the groove of the song. I also like that it is something a bit different from the other upbeat songs that Kumi has, although I do wish the arrangement had a bit more splash to it.
Rating: 8/10

23. Lies
lies
Released: January 4, 2006
Charts: #7 / 46,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
Bringing us an uptempo R&B tune is Lies. This is another solid tune, although it doesn’t quite stand out as much in her discography as the last three singles. What this tune has going for it is this wicked guitar refrain that plays throughout the song. It helps give the arrangement a little more edginess. There is a bit of punch in the song and that’s really felt in the opening chorus line. It’s an incredibly catchy tune, although I wish the arrangement was more adventurous.
Rating: 7/10

24. feel
feel
Released: January 11, 2006
Charts: #1 / 48,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
feel keeps up the R&B sound but settles for something a little more relaxing and midtempo. It’s a nice song in that helps bring some variety and it is a solid tune that has a great melody. Unfortunately, I just find it a bit lacking in the area of arrangement. The chorus is quite catchy and reminds me of some other mid-00’s R&B tunes, but it just doesn’t have the punch in the arrangement to really bring the emotion.
Rating: 6/10

25. Candy 
candy
Released: January 18, 2006
Charts: #3 / 47,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album:BEST ~second session~
Not really sure about Candy. I’m always a bit unsure of these Middle Eastern-inspired R&B tracks. This one definitely sounds like “Shake It” #2, but just lacking in the catchy melody. The arrangement is quite fun and I really think that Kumi’s voice fits these songs wonderfully. Just, I’ve heard similar songs that were stronger. Mr. Blistah’s feature is also not my cup of tea and it would’ve been better without him.
Rating: 4/10

26. No Regret
noregret
Released: January 25, 2006
Charts: #4 / 131,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album:BEST ~second session~
Can definitely say I prefer this song to the last one. No Regret was one of the few singles to not be limited in press. Unlike the other songs, this one has a more progressive pop quality to it. While the melody fits wonderfully with Kumi’s voice and feels like something more in tune with what she would release before, the arrangement is an array of synths that really give it a more “anime-esque” kind of quality. It’s very fine and almost space-like. The only thing for me is that the song opens with the chorus, so it drags on a bit by the end.
Rating: 8/10

27. Ima Sugu Hoshii (今すぐ欲しい)
imasuguhoshii
Released: February 1, 2006
Charts: #5 / 47,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
Ima Sugu Hoshii is a special single as it was the only cover of the twelve, being originally released by SUGAR SOUL. This is a more laid back R&B tune with a nice relaxing vibe to it. Unlike “feel”, we have something with a bit more spice to it. I think that’s to fit the raunchy lyrics, but still the tune has a great groove to it that isn’t heard in the other tunes. I wasn’t really into this song before, but revisiting it has made me see it in another light.
Rating: 7/10

28. KAMEN
kamen
Released: February 8, 2006
Charts: #3 / 46,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
KAMEN is my least favourite of the twelve singles and maybe my least favourite song she has ever released. It is a midtempo ballad that features Ishii Tatuya, but their voices just do not work with each other. While there are some nicer points like when they harmonize for the chorus, I just cannot stand the over-the-top singing styles that both are doing. Kumi isn’t so bad, but Ishii is taking the vibrato to another level and it really ruins the light reggae vibe the song has.
Rating: 2/10

29. WIND
wind
Released: February 15, 2006
Charts: #3 / 46,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
WIND has a lighter pop vibe to it that gives it a more explosive late-summer vibe. It’s sort of like “Birthday Eve”, but tones down on the cuter aspects. It’s not the most memorable of the songs as the music isn’t particularly noteworthy of anything, but the melody is quite fun and I like Kumi’s vocal delivery here. Not a bad tune, but I do find it to be a little more forgettable than some other ones.
Rating: 6/10

30. Someday / Boys♡Girls
someday
Released: February 22, 2006
Charts: #3 / 89,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
When these singles first came out, I was expecting Someday to be a slow and stunning ballad to end things on, but instead we get a groovy pop tune. It has a similar vibe as “WIND”, but this is much stronger. The arrangement has some cool energy to it with its light bass and string-like synths. The chorus also isn’t that saccharine, so it doesn’t get as tiring in the long run. It’s quite a nice way to end things off. Boys♡Girls is probably the biggest surprise. It goes 100 on those groovy vibes. I love the light disco/funk feel of the song as it fits totally on something geared towards the late 70s. It doesn’t quite have the same charm as the first A-side as the chorus feels more like an afterthought than something with a lot of effort in the hooks. Luckily, it’s still quite fun.
Rating: 8/10 (Someday), 7/10 (Boys♡Girls)

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 2

11. LOVE & HONEY
love&honey
Released: May 26, 2004
Charts: #4 / 150,000 copies sold
c/w: The Theme of Jill Sister / Yogiri no Honey (夜霧のハニー) / Into your heart
Album: secret
Despite being named LOVE & HONEY, the A-side is actually called Cutie Honey and is it ever a solid tune. It’s a pretty great follow-up to her last smash song “real Emotion” as it has an exciting disco influenced backdrop. This one is definitely lighter though and it just zooms by at an immense pace. I love the energy it brings and Kumi’s more sensual and cute delivery makes it even more fun. It’s a bit funny because it just doesn’t fit the same vibe of the single cover. The first B-side (The Theme of Jill Sister) is a slower tune that is only a minute long. It’s fully in English, but sort of lacks any interesting factors to it. A better version comes with the “Love & Honey version”, but it still isn’t entirely my cup of tea even if it is a bit more soulful. The second B-side (Yogiri no Honey) is more down my lane. I love the sensual vibe of the tune and it’s more relaxed vibe, however, I find the verses to be better than the choruses. It’s not a great tune, but it’s definitely a nice contrast to the A-side. The final B-side (Into your heart) is the best B-side on the single. It brings back the disco elements, but with a bit more attitude to it. The hooks aren’t terribly memorable, but at least the music is pretty exciting.
Rating: 9/10

12. Chase
chase
Released: July 28, 2004
Charts: #18 / 21,000 copies sold
c/w: Heat
Album: secret
I really enjoy Chase and it’s continuation of the catchy upbeat pop energy, however it does get a bit overshadowed for me when compared to the other singles this era. It has a funkier vibe that is reminisent to her other “cuter” tunes, but it still retains the mature delivery. I do love the arrangement because it’s fun and has a lot of punch. The saxophone, thumping beat and spiraling synths really give it an explosive vibe. Unfortunately, I am just not that interested in the B-side (Heat). It takes a more urban swing. While the melody is quite charming, I just find it overshadowed by the weird arrangement and heavier rap sections. Kumi sounds great, but I just get a little tired of this song.
Rating: 7/10

13. Kiseki (奇跡)
kiseki
Released: September 8, 2004
Charts: #7 / 60,000 copies sold
c/w: LOVE HOLIC / life
Album: secret
Kiseki was one of the first Kumi songs I got into and I still adore it to this day. It’s a slower tune that follows a bit closer to the lighter R&B vibes of “Gentle Words”, but with a bit more punch to the melody. The arrangement is rather generic with its gentle beat and swirling synths, but there is something charming with how it works with Kumi’s sensual voice. Compared to many of her later ballads, this one sort of has a simpler and less intense quality, which is something I miss. Can’t say I’m a fan of the first B-side (LOVE HOLIC) though. It has a summery pop/rock vibe. While the music is fun, I just can’t really get into the song. It is sort of missing that “it” factor for me. The melody isn’t particularly memorable. I much prefer the second B-side (life). It brings us back to the R&B sound, but with something a little lighter and bouncier. The English is a bit weird here, but I do really enjoy the chorus melody. It’s quite charming.
Rating: 9/10

14. hands
hands
Released: January 19, 2005
Charts: #7 / 48,000 copies sold
c/w: Through the sky
Album: secret
All I can say is that hands is my all-time favourite Kumi song. It’s a bit like the R&B version of “1000 no Kotoba” in that it has a more emotional tinge to it. The verses are slow and sad, but the choruses really bring the passion and Kumi’s voice is top notch here. It’s certainly more melodramatic and I love the power of the melody. The music is quite calming though and doesn’t overtake the energy of the vocal parts. This was the first song from Kumi I fell in love with as well. The B-side (Through the sky) is yet another ballad, but we lose the R&B beats for something a bit more orchestral. It’s a nice change and a more inspiring sounding ballad. It’s a bit long, but it’s quite beautiful.
Rating: 10/10

15. Hot Stuff
hotstuff
Released: April 13, 2005
Charts: #10 / 29,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: secret
Hot Stuff is a hit-or-miss kind of song for me. While I do like its more upbeat urban display, it has a few problems that really ruin it. KM-MARKIT as a rapper just dominates much of the song and he just doesn’t make it very appealing. I feel like if he was actually featured on one part, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but his lackluster delivery just doesn’t fit the energy of the music. The parts that are by Kumi are actually rather fun to sing along to. Not sure why it was chosen as the limited re-cut single when there were songs like “Let’s Party” on the album.
Rating: 5/10

16. Butterfly
butterfly
Released: June 22, 2005
Charts: #2 / 125,000 copies sold
c/w: Your Sunshine / Taisetsu na Kimi e (大切な君へ)
Album: BEST ~first things~
Thankfully Butterfly is an amazing tune that has some great pop moments mixed with a bit of funky swing to really give the music its kick. What makes me love the arrangement is its powering cello undertones mixed with the explosive brass punch. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Cutie Honey, with its fast-paced energy that just zooms by. This time, we change around the arrangement a bit though. Kumi sounds effortless singing this though. The first B-side (Your Sunshine) fits its title with its more upbeat and bright sound. It has a great beat to it and a bit of funk to it, which is already great in my books. I just wish the chorus was a bit more memorable and really put that funkiness to work, but it’s a solid B-side. The second B-side (Taisetsu na Kimi e) is a slow ballad that has a more laid back quality to it with its light guitar arrangement. Kumi has done better ones before, but it’s still a cute tune. I like the English heavy chorus, although there are a few odd points here or there.
Rating: 9/10

17. flower
flower
Released: August 10, 2005
Charts: #4 / 106,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~first things~
I always feel like flower is the single I forget about the most from Kumi. Maybe because it lacks a music video and is a midtempo ballad, I just can’t seem to remember it all that much. Despite being a slower tune, it does have a bit more punch to its arrangement. It reminds me of “Kiseki” to be honest as the arrangement is a bit more generic and ‘cleaner’ than some of her heavier stuff. It’s a cute song, although I think “Kiseki” does it better.
Rating: 6/10

18. Promise / Star
promise
Released: September 7, 2005
Charts: #4 / 61,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~first things~
Being the last single before her hugely successful first best album, Promise / Star is a pretty good single. Promise is the lighter half of the single and an R&B ballad. Although the verses are rather calming and soft, the choruses are more intense and reminiscent of “hands”. I love the arrangement here and the melody is quite charming as well. It’s another one of my favourite ballads from her even if she has done this before. It also showcases one of her strongest vocal performances. Star is an absolute blast to listen to as well. It’s totally different from anything by Kumi before with its flashing synths and propelling energy. The music is exciting and there are just so many fun elements thrown in that really helps make everything pop. The melody is effortlessly catchy and backed wonderfully in the right places to emphasize the hooks.
Rating: 9/10 (Promise), 9/10 (Star)

19. you
you
Released: December 7, 2005
Charts: #1 / 190,000 copies sold
c/w: Sweet Kiss
Album: BEST ~second session~
The first single from Kumi’s daring 12 single marathon. you is one of the few singles that wasn’t limited to only 50,000 copies and it was the most successful of the bunch. It’s a gorgeous pop ballad that has some light R&B elements. I love its calmer vibe and despite its fuller arrangement, the melody keeps a more toned down sound to help emphasize the melancholic feel. It’s a really beautiful song one of her strongest ballads. The B-side (Sweet Kiss) is a great contrast to the A-side with its exciting disco-influenced delivery. It has a lot of punch to it and I love its throwback to the sounds of “Chase”.
Rating: 10/10

20. Birthday Eve 
birthdayeve
Released: December 14, 2005
Charts: #6 / 47,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: BEST ~second session~
The second of the twelve singles is the cuter Birthday Eve. The weird thing is that Kumi hasn’t done a single like this up to this point, so it’s her first to really bring a sweeter vibe. It can be a bit too saccharine at times, especially with Kumi’s vocals, but I do like the overall execution of the song. It’s quite exciting and the arrangement has some really great elements in it like the explosion of brass. I wish the chorus was a bit catchier, but it’s a solid follow-up.
Rating: 7/10

[Special] Koda Kumi Singles Review Part. 1

01. TAKE BACK
takeback
Released: December 06, 2000
Charts: #59 / 22,000 copies sold
c/w: Your Song
Album: affection
The thing with Koda Kumi is that she debuted with one of her strongest songs. TAKE BACK is a stellar pop tune with some lighter R&B elements. It’s a bit of an eerie tune due to its synths and while it doesn’t quite explode with power as some of her other earlier songs do, there is a nice relaxed nature that ties in nicely with the cooler arrangement. I actually love the melody, but what really takes the song to the next level is the gorgeous synth line that slithers along throughout the instrumental portions. I wasn’t terribly impressed by this song at first, but dang is not a great song. It’s unfortunate that the B-side (Your Song) isn’t as strong. It continues the relaxed vibe, but focuses more on the R&B elements. I like the verses, but the chorus melody is a bit messy. It has a nice arrangement though. A decent filler, but nothing that I would return to often.
Rating: 10/10

02. Trust Your Love
trustyourlove
Released: May 3, 2001
Charts: #18 / 42,000 copies sold
c/w: STILL IN LOVE
Album: affection
Trust Your Love was Kumi’s best selling single for much of her early career. It continues the cooler dance-pop/R&B vibe that she opened with “TAKE BACK”. Unfortunately, I don’t find it as strong. The chorus is pretty catchy, but it sort of loses the cooler vibes in the chorus with its harsher delivery. The verses do a great job of bringing this energy though, especially when tied in with the light synths. It’s a funky song and a decent follow-up, just doesn’t quite have the same everlasting charm. The B-side (STILL IN LOVE) is pretty funky. The beat is wicked and I love the return of the eerie synths. I’m actually surprised I never gave this song much a chance before because I can say I enjoy it more than the A-side. It would have been a stellar follow-up to “TAKE BACK”.
Rating: 6/10

03. COLOR OF SOUL
colorofsoul
Released: October 3, 2001
Charts: #29 / 12,000 copies sold
c/w: It’s too late
Album: affection
It’s nice that COLOR OF SOUL comes tumbling in with its pop/disco fusion. The song pretty much continues the sexy, but cool vibe of the last two singles and it works with Kumi’s raspier vocals. What sets it apart is that it is definitely the most upbeat track from her at this point. It has a funkiness to the arrangement that gives it a bit of a fun aspect. I do wish the chorus was a little better though. Kumi’s voice is a bit too harsh at times on some of the notes. I always feel excited at first when I hear Kumi doing something R&B and the B-side (It’s too late) is a pretty solid R&B ballad. The only issue with it is that Kumi is trying to yell out the notes, which doesn’t work with the more sensual and calmer vibe of the arrangement.
Rating: 6/10

04. So Into You
sointoyou
Released: March 13, 2002
Charts: #50 / 5,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: affection
The final single from her debut album, So Into You is a nice continuation of her early work. This time, we get back to something with a gorgeous synth line. I feel like this tune is most similar to her debut track, which is a nice throwback. The chorus is also a bit more on the sexier side of things, although it still retains that smooth R&B coolness. While Kumi’s voice is a bit harsh again, it isn’t as overbearing as in the material from the last single.
Rating: 7/10

05. love across the ocean
loveacrosstheocean
Released: July 24, 2002
Charts: #19 / 22,000 copies sold
c/w: the meaning of peace
Album: grow into one
I adore love across the ocean. Despite being for a new album, it pretty much continues her first four singles’ sounds. It takes a more aggressive take on things for the chorus and there is a bit of a pop/rock attitude in the arrangement. I love the punch of the melody and it works really well with the guitar heavy backdrop. However, like many of her earlier tunes, the synth line is what really takes me into the song and this one has a great one. The B-side is a self-cover of the meaning of peace, which was released as a special single between Kumi and BoA. The original is a nice tune, but it is a bit too slow. This version gives a great disco flair to it and I love the updated funk.
Rating: 8/10

06. m·a·z·e
maze
Released: December 11, 2002
Charts: #25 / 12,000 copies sold
c/w: one
Album: grow into one
Surprisingly, I can say that I’ve grown to adore m·a·z·e even more than “love across the ocean”. Here, we get that cool synthed dance/pop sound, but with something a bit darker. The verses are pretty nice and I love how sensual Kumi’s voice sounds here. The chorus goes a bit harder but it doesn’t lose that cooler edge to it. There are times where Kumi has to strain for the notes, but it doesn’t overpower the funky arrangement. The B-side (one) goes for something a bit heavier on the R&B side of things. It’s a nice change up and reminds me of R&B from the late 90’s. It has a bit more punch in its delivery. It’s solid B-side material.
Rating: 9/10

07. real Emotion / 1000 no Kotoba (1000の言葉)
realemotion
Released: March 5, 2003
Charts: #3 / 281,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: grow into one
This is the single that launched Kumi’s career and was used as the themes to Final Fantasy X-2. real Emotion has some similar elements that were found in her earlier material, like the cooler pop/dance influences in the arrangement, however we get some stronger disco vibes in the form of synths and the cool beat. I don’t listen to this song that often, but whenever I do return to it, I can find its charms once again. The chorus is catchy and the simple “What can I do for you?” hook is is just infectious. The only thing that can outdo it for me is the second A-side. 1000 no Kotoba is Kumi’s first ballad A-side and it one of her best songs. It has a slower vibe to it and can start off rather slow and dull, but there is a sincerity in Kumi’s vocal delivery that really keeps it interesting. The life of the song is in the chorus though. The energy picks up and we get a stronger orchestral arrangement that really soars that emotional melody. Stunning tune.
Rating: 9/10 (real Emotion), 10/10 (1000 no Kotoba)

08. COME WITH ME
comewithme
Released: August 27, 2003
Charts: #14 / 41,000 copies sold
c/w: n/a
Album: feel my mind
As a follow-up to her biggest hit at the time and a successful second album, Kumi released the disco flavoured COME WITH ME. I’m always on the fence with this one. I love the arrangement and I’ve always been into songs that have stronger disco and funk influences to them. The chorus is pretty fun and quite bright, but it just doesn’t stand out as much to me, especially when compared to the smoother verses. It also doesn’t help she screeches hitting the “Come With Me” line. It’s a cute tune though.
Rating: 6/10

09. Gentle Words
gentlewords
Released: December 10, 2003
Charts: #15 / 27,000 copies sold
c/w: Without Your Love / Saigo no Ame (最後の雨)
Album: feel my mind
Whatever happened with the last single was made up for with Gentle Words. We get a slower R&B tune and it’s absolutely stunning. This is one of my favourite songs from Kumi. It has a relaxed vibe to it, but still has the hooks to make it memorable. The music is also really beautiful and has a lightness to it that really lends itself well to the calming melody. Kumi doesn’t try very hard here and her raspy voice really stands out as well. Th first B-side (Without Your Love) is a funky R&B/pop tune and I love the subtle disco influences in the arrangement. The beat is really fun, although I’m not a big fan of the chorus. Weird outside sounds come in and sort of interrupt the energy there. The second B-side (Saigo no Ame) is actually a cover of a Nakanishi Yasushi song. It has a slower R&B vibe to it, although it doesn’t quite have the calmness of the A-side. It’s not a bad song, but I much prefer the original with its more classic pop/rock delivery.
Rating: 10/10

10. Crazy 4 U
crazy4u
Released: January 15, 2004
Charts: #12 / 28,000 copies sold
c/w: Yume With You (夢 With You)
Album: feel my mind
Crazy 4 U brings us back to the upbeat style and we get a funky disco-influenced dance/pop song. I feel like this one is more serious than “COME WITH ME” and the execution is much stronger. The verses are great and have a funky beat that drives the song. The chorus explodes with energy though and it’s quite catchy. I wish it felt a bit more focused or streamlined because the production is a little weak here, but the melody makes up for that. It’s a cool track anyways and sounds like the funkier version of her earlier tunes. The B-side (Yume With You) is yet another cover song. This time we get a cover of a Kubota Toshinobu song. I do like its bouncy arrangement and that it still remains rather calming. I just wish the song pushed a little harder because the melody just isn’t able to carry this one for me. It’s a cute tune though.
Rating: 7/10